Ranking the Chicago Cubs’ Top 10 Prospects Heading into 2014
Chicago Cubs: Top 10 Prospects Heading Into 2014
These are exciting times to be a Chicago Cubs fan.
Despite the fact that the MLB squad isn’t doing very well and they struggled mightily these past two seasons, there are signs that the rebuilding process is coming along as there have been some solid performances of players that can be part of the process going forward.
But there’s nothing more exciting than the prospects the Cubs have in their farm system right now.
A consensus Top 3 system in all of baseball that has been ranked as high as second and as low as fifth, the Cubs have solid players all around the diamond in terms of minor leaguers. Solid outfielders, key players in the infield and a lot of impact hitters are some of the players the Cubs have waiting in the wings. And when the system lacks impact pitchers there are a few arms at the lower levels that have a lot of potential and upside.
Players like Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Arismendy Alcantara are beginning to gather national attention as future stars, but they are only the tip of the iceberg for a system that’s stockpiled with solid elements.
Prospects don’t always pan out as they’re far from being a sure thing, but if some of the players on this list are able to have a career with the organization then the Cubs should have an improved lineup in a few years.
Without further ado, join me through this slideshow as we rank the Top 10 prospects in the Chicago Cubs system heading into next season.
10. Dan Vogelbach - 1B
Despite playing some average (at best) defense at first, Dan Vogelbach will be asked to only catch the routine balls because his real value is his offense. ‘VogelBomb’ is a threat to have 30 HR in the big leagues because he has plus plus power and a solid approach that got even better this year. The only problem he has is the presence of somebody named Anthony Rizzo at first base in the Majors.
9. C.J. Edwards - SP
C.J. Edwards has drawn some concerns due to his slight build that suggest that he can be a reliever down the road, but the Cubs will give him every chance to be a starter. He has nasty stuff when he’s on his game, and he broke out this past season where he was selected as the MiLB Pitcher of the Year after arriving to the Cubs as the centerpiece of the Matt Garza deal with the Texas Rangers.
8. Pierce Johnson - SP
Pierce Johnson was chosen as a compensation pick after the Cubs didn’t sign Aramis Ramirez, and the right-hander could end up being a mainstay in Chicago’s rotation for years to come. He features a fastball that can reach 95 mph, a hard curve and a changeup. He pitched almost 120 innings and he will continue his development at Double-A Tennessee next season where his high floor should allow him to move through the system quickly. His ceiling is a strong middle of the rotation starter.
7. Arodys Vizcaino - P
Arodys Vizcaino was the centerpiece of the deal made with the Atlanta Braves in 2012. However, the fact that he has suffered a few setbacks in his recovery hasn’t allowed him to pitch for the Cubs organization yet. He used to be a starter in Atlanta, but all of his health issues could end up transforming him into a reliever where he profiles to be a late-inning guy, possibly a dominant closer.
6. Mike Olt - 3B
Mike Olt might lose his prospect status sooner rather than later as he’ll have lots of chances to win the 3B job out of Spring Training. Considered one of the best hitting prospects in 2012, he had a down year due to some vision issues last season that made him expendable for the Texas Rangers. If he can show that the vision issues are a thing of the past then the Cubs could have their long-term answer at third in Olt.
5. Arismendy Alcantara - 2B
Arismendy Alcantara’s rare combination of power, speed and switch-hitting ability is very uncommon. He used to be a shortstop in Tennessee, but after Javier Baez’s arrival this past season he moved to second where his glove should play even better. He has all the makings of a prototypical leadoff hitter, and he could be an option to replace Darwin Barney if he keeps progressing and Barney continues his struggles.
4. Jorge Soler - RF
Jorge Soler signed a nine-year, $30M deal after defecting from Cuba, and the contract could end up being a steal if Soler progresses as expected. He was injured through a big part of the season, but he’s recovering the lost time in the Arizona Fall League. When he was active at Daytona he showed a solid approach, good hitting skills and raw power. He also has a strong arm that should play perfectly in right field.
3. Albert Almora - CF
Everything around Albert Almora screams a solid ball player. He has great instincts, solid hitting skills, adequate speed and he’s a Gold Glove caliber defender in center field. He’s seen his fair share of injuries, and he needs to stay healthy to continue his development as expected.
2. Kris Bryant - 3B
Kris Bryant started his pro career on a tear. He destroyed rookie ball and Boise as he advanced directly to Class A+ Daytona where he was a key member of the team that won the Florida State League. In addition, he’s been one of the best players in the Arizona Fall League and it seems like he’ll reach The Bigs sooner than expected.
1. Javier Baez - SS
Javier Baez had one of the best seasons a Cubs prospect has enjoyed in recent years. He smashed A+ as well as AA ball and finished the season with 37 HR and 111 RBI. He should start next year as the starting shortstop of the AAA Iowa Cubs, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him on the infield at Wrigley Field as soon as next year. His plus bat speed, overall solid approach and great makeup make Baez one of the best prospects in all of baseball, although he needs to cut down the strikeouts and improve the defense before reaching The Show.